After the Fire, From the Fire and About the Fire, 2009
grass, reeds, ash and twig charcoal on paper
Collection of the artist
The day I made this image was one of the last days of the fire period.
I had gone to the end of one of our paddocks across the river from the house where the forest abuts our land. This area was sheltered from the strong north wind but there was menace in the air as all that remained was tinder dry with the scorched leaves now fallen adding a new fuel load. Fires were still burning in the surrounding forests. I phone a friend to say where I had gone asking them to warn me if they heard of any nearby fire outbreaks, but really just to let them know where I had gone.
It was with a certain sense of fear that I set about my work. I was wanting to record as much as possible of the Fire before the weather broke and rain changed the ash. I wanted to work with some of the fragile ash but there was almost nothing on the ground to make a mark. Blackened trees were numerous with thick charcoaled trunks that I could draw with, and did so.
Eventually I found a small patch of burnt reeds where the bases had some charcoal remaining. I took my sheet of paper and gently pressed it down to get an impression. When I looked at the fragmented marks I was really excited as these marks related so perfectly to how I was feeling. I continued to print them over the paper until they would no longer print. I then found little charcoaled twigs and drew the delicate lines.
When this work was hanging in my studio I came to see how it managed to convey three important aspects of the Fire:-
- Firstly, the marks look like the burnt hills and trees when seen from above.
- Secondly, these marks contain the DNA of the Black Saturday Fire.
- Thirdly, the delicate and fragile surface marks express of how we felt during the fire period.